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No Matter the Time, II...an Alternate Love Story
She was standing in the kitchen, searching for the coffee when he wandered in. She turned to look at him. He was wearing just his jeans again, his hair was tousled, his eyes still half closed, scratching his chest absently. She felt her heart do flip-flops, and her body stir at the sight. "Daniel, you are so beautiful," she whispered. She put her arms around him, pressed her lips to his throat.
"You’re gorgeous, babe," he replied. She looked damned good in the faded football jersey she was wearing. It grazed the tops of her thighs, and he was fairly certain there wasn’t anything at all under it. A suspicion that sent his thoughts reeling and his body reacting.
"Says you," she smiled. "Where in the world do you hide the coffee?"
He showed her where it was kept.
"Any reason you don’t keep it in the pantry with everything else?"
He shrugged, then opened the nearly empty pantry cabinet. There was a box of crackers, two cans of soup, and a box of cereal. "Guess I never thought about keeping it here."
She rolled her eyes. She opened every cabinet in the kitchen, most of which were empty, took note of the lack of small appliances and serving dishes. "Don’t at eat home often, do you?"
"I usually pick up something on the way home, or have it delivered," he admitted.
"You realize that this means a trip to the grocery store. Good thing I decided to keep my mixer," she murmured. The boxes that had been marked ‘kitchen’ were sitting against the wall. She bent over and opened one up, rummaging in it for her emergency non-dairy creamer. She preferred her coffee with milk, and he didn’t have any of that, either.
The sight of that enticing pink flesh was all it took to have him rising to full mast. "Can’t that wait?" he asked. He was standing behind her, running his hands over her hips.
She gasped when she felt his fingers caress her. "Daniel-" she gasped again when she felt him slide into her; she wasn’t exactly…ready…for him. She put her hands against the wall to steady herself.
His hands were on her hips, holding her as he moved in and out of her sweet body. Her hips were already moving back to meet his.
"Daniel, please…" she said, wanting to go back to the bedroom, needing to hold him, needing to…make love.
"Shh, easy babe. Just enjoy," he whispered. One hand moved around her slender hips to find that nub that brought her such pleasure. He began to caress her, smiled when she began to whimper, held her hips again as he drove into her. He moaned his released, then wrapped his arms around her, their bodies still melded as one. "Love you, babe," he whispered.
"Lust is more like it," she replied, her voice shaky, her body trembling. She wondered briefly what would happen when his...desire...for her, the...need...for her cooled.
"Nothing," she replied coolly.
He rolled his eyes. The past twenty-four hours had been a roller coaster ride, and he was exhausted emotionally and mentally. For a moment, he forgot that she was as exhausted, perhaps more, as he was. "What the hell is wrong now?" he demanded.
She pulled away from him, nearly ran down the hallway and into the bathroom.
He heard the door close. Not slammed, but certainly closed hard. He rubbed his hand over his face, pulled his jeans back around his hips. "Damn!" He stood there, thinking over all that they had discussed during the drive here, her worries and fears. Her words echoed in his ears. "Smooth, Danny, real smooth," he groaned. He had acted like a randy teenager, unable to control his hormones. Lust. Sure, there was plenty of that. Mixed with a healthy dose of love. But what had he done to prove his love to her? Really prove it? No wonder she was upset. And, already knowing how her mind worked, he knew that she was in the bathroom convincing herself that when his lust was satiated, he would no longer love her.
He wasn’t surprised to find the door locked. He could hear the water running, figured if she was really in the shower, she was standing under the water crying.
He figured correctly. She stood, letting the water run over her, mixing with the tears on her face. She looked at the ring on her finger…wondered how long before it would signify nothing more than habit, nothing more than responsibility, nothing more than…a mistake. She sobbed, her arms tight around her waist; that day, no matter how far away it seemed now, still loomed too closely.
He was standing in the bedroom, staring at the door to the bathroom. He tried the handle, grinned when it opened. She wasn’t accustomed to two doors into the bathroom. After this, he was sure that she would remember to lock both when she was angry with him. She was sobbing quietly when he stepped into the room, her shoulders shaking, her face upturned, letting the spray of the water hide her tears. His heart clenched with pain.
She jumped and gave a startled cry when his arms went around her waist. She fought her body, her heart, struggled to keep from leaning back against him.
He turned her to face him. "I’m sorry, Casey. I really do love you. Yeah, I lust after you too, but without the love, it wouldn’t mean anything. Touching you, making love to you, wouldn’t be as…important…to me if I didn’t love you. I didn’t even let you tell me what you wanted, I just took you as if…like a jerk. I’m really sorry, Casey."
"I only…I just…" she shook her head, her voice filled with tears. She lowered her head, pulled her lip between her teeth. Kept her arms around her body protectively.
"You what, babe?" he asked gently. He put one finger under her chin, raised her face so he could see her eyes. See the hurt, the confusion in them.
"I just wanted to go into the bedroom, into the bed, so I could hold you…make love to you…" she whispered.
He closed his eyes. "And instead I stood there and practically raped you," he replied.
"No! It wasn’t like that! It…it was my fault…I…I should have put clothes on…I just…usually I’m alone on Saturdays, and I don’t…it was my fault, really."
He shook his head. "I’m thirty-four years old, Case. I should behave like it. There was no excuse for my behavior."
"It’s okay, really…I guess I’m still a little…off balance. Being here, I mean…not-" she broke off, looked away from him.
Being here and not where you have friends to turn to, he thought. He dropped his hand, let her move away from him, even though it hurt to do so. He wanted to hold her, kiss her fears away. Right now that was the last thing she needed. "Look, I’ll just get out of here and let you finish your shower. We can go to the grocery store whenever you’re ready," he said softly.
She looked up into his eyes. "Stay? Please? I…damn it, Daniel! I’m so scared! I love you so much…and I’m so afraid that something's going to go wrong and that you’re going to leave me…end up hating me…and it hurts so much, and idiot that I am I push at you so that you can’t hurt me first and I’m so sorry, it was all my fault, I did come on to you in the kitchen and I should have been wearing underwear for crissakes and I really do love you!"
He smiled. "Feel better?"
She gave him a small smile and nodded.
He kissed her forehead. "Nothing is going to go wrong. I know that, here," he said, taking her hand, putting it over his heart. "Destiny, Case. We both felt it when you opened that door. If you hadn’t, if you didn’t believe it as much as I do, you never would have come to my bed that night, wouldn’t be standing here right now. I love you. That’s never going to change."
She stepped closer, locked her arms around his neck. "I’m not really a basket case. Even though I’ve been acting like it," she said softly.
"Shh…you’re not acting like a basket case. You’re acting like a woman who has just left everyone and everything she knows to make a new life with a man she barely knows. I’d say that takes a lot of courage. Especially when that man acts like a jerk," he replied in kind, smoothing her wet hair from her face.
"You weren’t acting like a jerk. Only taking what was offered."
"You didn’t offer - I just took. I swear, Casey, I’ll never do that to you again."
She nodded. Took a deep breath. "Wash my back? I’ll wash yours," she said softly.
Casey insisted on making love again, with the water pouring over them, telling him that she wanted to show him how much she loved him. He was fairly certain that they were on the right track once again by the time they had finished their shower.
The message light on the answering machine was blinking when she went back into the kitchen. "Daniel, there’s a message for you," she called down the hallway. He was still looking for his wallet, which had gone flying out of his pants the night before when they had tossed their clothes aside.
"Found it!" He walked into the living room.
"It was behind a couple of the boxes of your stuff," he replied. He hit the play button on the machine.
"Uh…hi…geez I hope this is the right number," Kelley’s voice said. "I don’t know if you guys have made it there yet, or if you’re just out…or…preoccupied. Give me a call when you get in so I know you’re okay…uh…talk to you later, Case."
"It was a message for you," he grinned. "Do you know how to work this answering machine?"
She shook her head. He carefully took her through the steps of playing back messages, showed her how to erase them. "Would it be okay if I called her? I can pay for it-"
He put his finger against her lips, put his next to her ear. "Your home, babe. This is your home. You don’t have to ask permission to do anything here. And don’t worry about paying for anything. That’s my job. It’s my job to take care of you, provide for you," he whispered.
"And my job is…?" she asked softly.
"You have a very difficult, time consuming job," he said, smiling down at her.
She smiled up at him. "Not so difficult at all. Time consuming…maybe," she teased.
He hugged her tightly, kissed her forehead, then released her and walked into the kitchen to get a desperately needed cup of coffee.
She hesitated for a moment, then took the phone, which was cordless, dialing as she flopped down onto the sofa. "Kelley? Wow…imagine you home on a Saturday morning! Your mom didn’t have garage sales she wanted to go to?"
"Casey?" Kelley laughed. "Yeah, imagine that, me home on Saturday. No, Mom isn’t feeling well today. I’m going over there after while to check on her. So, when did you get in? What’s it like? Details, girlfriend!"
"We got in last night about nine…uh, that would be eight there."
"And you couldn’t call?"
"Sorry, Kelley, it was just kind of…intense…for awhile."
In the kitchen, Daniel’s ears, and heart, perked up. He knew it was rude, but he couldn’t help but listen. He needed every bit of insight on her that he could get.
"That’s okay," Kelley said. "So what’s it like?"
"It’s…" she looked around. "It’s unbelievable! I am stretched out on light brown leather sofa, there are bookcases with more books than you could believe…he has an amazing, and I do mean amazing collection of artifacts! It’s like a freaking museum! There are French doors in the living room and master bedroom to this incredible balcony, but I haven’t been out on it yet, and you wouldn’t believe the bathroom! Marble, girlfriend! The kitchen is about three times as big as ours…uh…yours…with beautiful white tile counters and white on white appliances. The stove is incredible! Self-cleaning oven, smooth top with one of those ribbon elements, you know, where two units can be used as one, I mean, wow! His den… well, really it’s the second bedroom, has the most beautiful walnut desk! It’s like…just like something out of Better Homes and Gardens!"
"Wow!" Kelley said "So…do you like it?"
Casey looked around. "Yeah, I think I do. I mean, my stuff doesn’t fit, you know? Well, the candles look okay, and you’ll never believe this…that old tea jar of Grandma Rose’s? Daniel said it’s valuable. Five thousand dollars worth! Can you believe that?"
Daniel frowned at the comment about her things not ‘fitting’. She'd made the same comment the night before. It was something he would have to address as soon as possible.
"You’re kidding! Oh my god! If I had known how much that thing was worth, I never would have slept a wink at night!" Kelley exclaimed.
Casey giggled. "Oh, god, you won’t believe what happened last night!" she said, her voice dropping.
He moved closer to the opening over the counter between the kitchen and dining room in order to hear what she was saying
"What happened?" Kelley asked.
"Well, I have to set this up for you…we get here…private parking garage with one of those electronic gates and a card key…so I already know that I’m way out of my league, and he brings me up here…I was so totally blown away by the place, and a lot overwhelmed…anyway, he shows me the bedroom…oh, Kelley, that room just screams for a brass bed…but anyway…he told me that this is my home now too, and that he wanted me to feel comfortable, and I was feeling about as comfortable as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs…"
Daniel frowned. He had sensed that she had been overwhelmed. He hadn’t realized just how uncomfortable she had been feeling. He filed away the comment about the brass bed. He knew her well enough by now to know that she would balk if he suggested getting one too soon.
"So, you know me, when I feel out of control, be a smart ass…anyway, I started bouncing on the bed…which led to…other things…"
"I can just imagine," Kelley laughed.
Daniel smiled at the memory of clothes flying through the room, and the sweet love they had made.
"You will never believe this…he hasn’t ever had a woman up here! It’s a long story, but we broke the bed in," Casey giggled. "So anyway, we take a shower, and then we’re going to go down and unload the jeep. Daniel had gone to start a pot of coffee, and I was still in the bathroom, and I couldn’t find the tie to his robe…which I pulled on because all of my stuff was still down in the jeep…I was just going to have some coffee and then pull my clothes back on…so anyway, here I come, be-bopping down the hallway…thank god I was holding the robe closed, because his friends, the people he works with, were standing here in the living room! Kelley, I wanted to die!"
He cringed. Sam had been right, he never should have let them in…he should have at least gone back and let her know that they had company.
"Anyway, he’s standing there in nothing but his Levi’s looking like Adonis himself, and he introduces me! I’m sure they were impressed! Not!" Casey declared.
He had to smile at her comparison of him and Adonis…and he knew for a fact that Jack and Sam and Teal'c had been very impressed with her. He knew that the minute they began treating her as part of the team.
"Oh, come on, Case! It wasn’t your fault…it was just one of those things that happen. So are his friends nice?" Kelley asked.
"Yeah, they are. I sort of did the deer in the headlights thing, managed to get back to the bedroom and got my clothes on, and Sam came back and we talked. I like her, Kells. She’s really nice. Jack's kind of funny, he can’t be too bad, he was impressed by my stereo system, which by the way, is not going to fit in this room. But I’m going to try and find a nice cabinet for it, and I have an idea for my cds…wood shelves with baskets…"
Again he frowned. Why wouldn’t her stereo ‘fit’ into the room? What the hell did she mean about all this ‘fitting’ stuff, anyway? That was something he was just going to flat out ask her!
"That will look great," Kelley agreed.
"So anyway, I met his friends. Now I can only hope to undo the damage of that first meeting!"
Daniel shook his head. Considering what had happened, and his own stupidity in the matter, she had handled the entire situation with dignity and class and grace. Typical Casey, he thought.
"Casey, are you really okay? Are you sure this is all going to work out? I mean, it’s all romantic as hell, but…reality can bite. You’re happy?" Kelley asked.
She closed her eyes, hugged herself. "I’m so happy like you couldn’t believe it. I’ve been acting like a basket case for about twenty-four hours now, poor Daniel! But everything is fine now…this is going to sound so weird, but when I’m scared, or worried, or overwhelmed, one kiss from him and I’m fine…it’s like…I don’t know…it just…grounds me, you know? His touch, his love…and I’m okay," she said.
He grinned. Something else to file away for future use. Kissing her made her fears go away. Not to mention that kissing her was one of his most favorite things to do.
"Good. Remember, girlfriend, I’m only a phone call away, and there will always be room for you here," Kelley said.
"Thanks, Kelley. Look, I have to go…I haven’t had a cup of coffee yet, and there is no food in this place! I swear he’ll have heart failure when he sees what the grocery bill is going to be! Good thing I already have my spices! Anyway, I think I’ll get the ingredients and make him some lasagna."
"Oh, man, eat some for me," Kelley groaned. "Okay, I’ll talk to you later. Take care, Casey."
"You too, Kelley. Bye." She turned off the phone, stood up and returned it to its base.
Daniel moved back by the stove, poured a cup of coffee for her, added the creamer that he had taken from the box. He handed it to her with a smile. "So how is Kelley?"
"Fine. Thanks," she smiled up at him, accepting the mug, then closed her eyes as she took her first sip of the rich brew. "Oh, yeah. You and coffee…all I ever need in life," she said.
He grinned. "I can deal with that." He nodded at the boxes. "I wondered if you wanted to put your things away before we go shopping. Then if there’s something you need, we can get it while we’re out."
She looked at him. "Do you even own cookware?"
He opened a cabinet door and showed her a complete set of Circulon cookware.
She let out a squeal and hugged him. "Do you know how long I’ve wanted a set of that cookware?" She dropped down onto the floor to find out just how many pieces of the set he had.
"I take it that you like those pans?" he grinned.
"Yes! They're so easy to clean up! Hey, if you never cook, why did you get them?"
He shrugged. "I got ‘em when I moved in here. Figured I might need a pan once in awhile. The sales clerk talked me into them."
She giggled. "You realize if I make out a list of what all you need-"
"We," he interjected.
"What all we need," he explained patiently.
She studied him for a minute. It struck her for the very first time that since the very first night together, he had referred to everything as theirs, not his, not hers, theirs. She suddenly realized that as far as he was concerned, that night they had become a couple, a single entity consisting of the two of them. She stood up, wrapped her arms around his waist and put her head against his shoulder. "Love you," she said softly
His arms went around her automatically. "Love you, too." If he was confused, he decided to ignore it. As long as she was happy and loved him, that’s all he needed to know.
"Okay, as I was saying, when I make out a list of everything we need, your eyeballs are going to spin."
He laughed. "Thanks for the warning. Hang on, I’ll be right back." He disappeared down the hallway, returned with a legal pad and pencil. "Ready?"
She nodded. He helped her empty the boxes, and she re-arranged everything that was already there.
He looked at the pad when they had finished. Including her grocery list, there were two full pages. He whistled softly.
Her eyes went wide. "We don’t have to get it all at once, just a little bit at a time. I can even cut down the grocery list, I won’t need everything immediately, and a couple of those things are only on the ‘it-would-be-nice-to-have’ list, which means we don’t have to worry about them-"
He put his finger on her lips, grinning at the rush of words that flowed from her. "Casey, we are going to get everything that you have on this list. It will probably take two trips, one to the mall and the other to Piggly-Wiggly, but that’s okay. See, I like the idea of home cooked meals. I figure I’ll actually be saving money in the long run."
"Thank you," she said softly.
"For what, babe?"
"Love spoiling you."
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